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C-17A S/N 04-4131
Accepted - March 2005 
Assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing (AMC), McGuire AFB, NJ  

photo by Kenn Mann                                                                                                                     usaf

The Spirit of Thomas B. McGuire, from the 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, continues to fly in the sky after refueling from a KC-10A Extender, May 25, 2005. 

McGuire’s 7th Boeing C-17 departs California for New Jersey.
(From the office of New Jersey Congressman Jim Saxton)

LONG BEACH, CALIF. – The seventh of New Jersey’s 13 new airlifters departed the factory this afternoon bearing the namesake of New Jersey’s most famous World War II fighter pilot. It is scheduled to land at the air base that also bears his name at approximately 4:30 p.m. (EST) today (March 8, 2005).

"The Spirit of Tommy McGuire lives on a little more boldly today," said Congressman Jim Saxton. "Tommy McGuire was one of the great fighter pilots of all time. It is an appropriate honor."

Saxton has supported dedicating a C-17 plane specifically in McGuire’s honor since June 2001, several months after the Air Force agreed to send McGuire a full squadron of airlifters worth over $2 billion. The first C-17 plane to come in September 2004 is the only other dedicated aircraft, holding the title "Spirit of New Jersey."

Saxton also commented on a newly released study that details the relatively low noise levels of of the 13 C-17s coming to McGuire AFB compared to the 32 C-141 Starlifters retired from McGuire AFB over the last five years.

"Like many people in South Jersey who support our bases, I’ve heard C-17s fly overhead and I’ve heard C-141s fly overhead," Saxton said. "I find that C-17s are a marvel of engineering because they are about the same size as a C-141, but can carry twice as much cargo and make considerably less noise."

The study, conducted by Boeing, measures effective perceived noise in decibels (EPNDB) on the ground from aircraft taking off and landing. The company said that a reduction of 10 EPNDB reduces audible noise by about one-half. Noise levels are typically higher during take off and landings, as engines are used to increase or slow speed. C-17s measured 11 EPNBD quieter than C-141s on takeoff, and 9 EPNDB quieter on approach.

"The C-141 Starlifters served McGuire Air Force Base and the nation well," said Saxton, fourth highest-ranking among 61 members of the House Armed Services Committee. "But the C-17 is the cleanest, quietest airlifter ever built. Because it carries more cargo, a single C-17 can also do the work of two C-141s."

Since September, C-17 Globemasters have begun arriving at a rate of about one a month at McGuire.

With the insignia "P-131" (for the 131ST C-17 plane), the plane departed the Long Beach, Calif. factory flown by Lt. Gen. William Welser III, a former C-141 pilot and instructor pilot, who has also piloted KC-10 Extenders. Welser also commanded the Air Mobility Warfare Center on Fort Dix. He is the current commander of the 18th Air Force at Scott AFB, headquarters of the Air Mobility Command, to which McGuire AFB belongs.

P-131 was also the tail number of Maj. Thomas B. McGuire’s fighter, who died on Jan. 7, 1945 in a dogfight over the Phillippines after his aircraft is believed to have stalled in an aerial maneuver. He was born in Ridgeway, N.J. in 1920. Congress awarded McGuire the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in 1946. Congress also renamed the Army’s Rudd Field as McGuire Air Force Base in 1948.

Saxton worked to keep the C-17 program alive in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the first models then built by McDonnell-Douglas were plagued with problems. The problems were fixed, and the plane has since earned a reputation as the finest airlifter ever built. Saxton, an authority on airlift issues in Congress, has led and continues to lead the fight to build enough C-17s to serve our nation’s national security needs.

"The fact is that we need more of them while the factory is still turning them out," Saxton said. "We have 180 on order, and we need at least 60 more. We had a total of 270 C-141s built by the late 1970s, but we rely on airlift more today than ever before for global operations. Frankly, I’d like to see close to 300 built."

AMC headquartered at Scott AFB has designated McGuire as its East Coast Air Mobility Center, and Lead Mobility Wing for transatlantic operations. McGuire also has 18 KC-135 Stratotankers and 31 KC-10 Extenders, both cargo and refueling aircraft.

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